NATIONAL NEWS

Bad weather hampers search for 2 who went over waterfall in Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area

May 21, 2024, 9:25 AM

ELY, Minn. (AP) — Bad weather Tuesday was hampering the search for two men who went over a waterfall while fishing in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness of northern Minnesota over the weekend.

St. Louis County Sheriff’s Cmdr. Nate Skelton told the Star Tribune of Minneapolis that the cloud cover was too low for aerial surveillance and up to 2 inches (50 millimeters) of rain was anticipated, so the next two days were not promising.

Skelton said a search crew was camping on site, waiting for conditions to improve in the remote area, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) north of Duluth. The closest town is Ely, some 20 miles (32 kilometers) away. The crew was equipped with drones and remotely operated vehicles.

Superior National Forest officials closed trails, campsites, portages and bodies of water in the area, to assist in the search.

Authorities have identified the missing men as Jesse Melvin Haugen, 41, of Cambridge, and Reis Melvin Grams, 40, of Lino Lakes. They went over Curtain Falls, between Crooked Lake and Iron Lake on the Minnesota-Ontario border while fishing in the area Saturday.

The missing men were part of a group of five in two canoes.

“One of the canoes got into some distress, and the others tried to give assistance,” Skelton said. “That’s when they both went over the falls.” Two of the men who went over were later rescued. One was flown to a Duluth hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries. The fifth man was found at a nearby campsite.

Skelton told Minnesota Public Radio that the waterfall is not a straight drop but goes down about 30 feet (9 meters), with rapid current. He said the group was familiar with the area.

“Four of them were basically anchored at the top of the falls, fishing, which they’ve done in the past, and it sounds like one of them may have had an issue and the other one went to try to give some assistance and both canoes and four people went over the falls,” the sheriff told MPR.

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Bad weather hampers search for 2 who went over waterfall in Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area